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State, local agencies target south side crime



Published: Thu, September 7, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



All of the agencies involved are pooling their resources.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN - The Ohio Adult Parole Authority has started a collaborative effort with law enforcement agencies to reduce crime on the city's south side.

Since 2005, the parole authority has been working out of offices at the Highland Terrace Apartments in that part of the city. It receives the space rent free from the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Jeffrey K. Ervin, parole services supervisor, is in charge of four parole officers who are assigned to Trumbull County. Two work in Warren supervising 180 offenders, with the other two covering the remainder of the county with between 120 and 130 offenders.

Teaming up

During an open house at the authority offices Wednesday, Ervin said that several law enforcement agencies recently joined the authority's effort. They include TMHA security, Warren City and Warren Township police, Trumbull County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Marshal Service and Trumbull County Probation Department.

The law enforcement officers will arrest those who have violated parole or probation -- or have outstanding arrest warrants for new criminal activity.

It's similar to the "Weed and Seed" project in Youngstown where the police there partnered with the authority to reduce crime on the South Side.

"It's been a successful strategy," said John Geras, the authority's Akron regional re-entry coordinator.

Youngstown's South Side was targeted for five years; the enforcement effort has been shifted to the North Side.

Warren didn't receive grant money to fund the program, but Ervin noted that the Warren effort isn't costing additional dollars because the agencies are pooling their resources.

Geras said the Weed and Seed program will work to combat neighborhood blight to provide a better atmosphere in which to live. Supervised offenders will receive substance abuse and sexual offender treatment, and care will be provided for those with mental health problems.

Identifying themselves

Parole officers will make their presence known by using large letters on their jackets to identify themselves, rather than dressing in a suit. Ervin explained the officers' presence will deter crime and make those who live in the area more comfortable.

Those on supervision will be assigned "citizens models," or volunteers who can provide them with advice about how to get a job and how to receive job-oriented training, besides day-to-day advice.

Geras said the authority will work with employers to instruct them about how they can get tax credits by hiring convicted felons.

"If they can't get their needs met legitimately, they will use illegal means to get their needs met," Geras said of the parolees and probationers.

Dave Ovesny, head of security for TMHA, said the TMHA is attempting to get housing for those on supervision so they can be with their families.

yovich@vindy.com




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